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"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20

 

Talking about Gratitude; Thinking About Lent

Laura DeMaria

I had a great time joining John Harper on Morning Air Radio again yesterday morning, to discuss how gratitude is a prayer. One fun and different part was that people actually called in, so I got to speak with a couple women in other parts of the country on this, one of my favorite topics. Very fun!

Check out the audio here, starting pretty much right at 43:00:

http://relevantradio.streamguys.us/MA%20Archive/MA20170330b.mp3

On a different note, last night I met for the second to last time with my spiritual director for the duration of the Lenten retreat I am on. Suddenly I realized how close we are to the end of this major liturgical season, and as I do with all those seasons the Church has, I began looking back on how it's gone.

The thing is, even though I gave up both sweets and alcohol (you know, why not, tradition), I really didn't notice all that much. Honestly, giving up sweets is much harder for me, because I like nibbling on something after I've eaten, and tend to have a drawer full of chocolate or cookies or something at my desk. This is actually part of why I have become such a tea-fanatic, because that was my way to cope last year. Now I just like tea a lot.

Anyway, I don't drink enough wine, etc. to make the alcohol one all that noticeable, though there were a few times where I withheld in a social or work situation and was reminded of the thing I learned a few years ago, the first time I tried giving up alcohol: no one cares if you drink or not. Maybe if you're in college, but not in the adult world. And if they do, it probably has something more to do with them, than you.

So instead, the daily prayer is what's really been the focus for me this Lenten season, and how rich it has been. Because I have focused more on this "adding something" (prayer) than "taking something away" (sweets, alcohol) Lent this year has taken on a whole new feeling. The practice of Ignatian spirituality at its core is about getting closer to God and developing a very real, active and deep relationship with Jesus, as you would with another person you know. So putting in that time - showing up to the prayer, being faithful and prioritizing it, because it is so important - has yielded wonderful richness and insight, a little of which I've written about recently. That, to me, seems to be the whole point of Lent, and much more significant than anything I've "given up" in the past. So although my little culinary sacrifices were there, they weren't the main thing; not at all. And I think in future years I will take this "adding on" approach, rather than a "subtracting one," to get closer to God during Lent. Or for any time of year, for that matter.